The automotive industry is one of the sectors shaping the Polish economy. Companies based on domestic capital excel at manufacturing buses, semitrailers and automotive components, often becoming leading players in their market segments. A case in point is Lumag from the town of Budzyń in the Wielkopolska region – a company manufacturing friction materials – which celebrates the 30th anniversary of its operation this year. During these three decades, from a company started by an enthusiast entrepreneur, it grew into one of the leaders of the Polish brake pad industry and today it exports over 80% of its production to over 40 countries around the world. Among other factors, the dynamic growth of the company was possible owing to investment exceeding two hundred and fifty million PLN.
The findings of the report entitled “How many Polish genes are there in the Polish automotive industry?” published last year by the Industrial Development Agency, PKO BP bank and the Institute for Market, Consumption and Business Cycles Research indicate that the automotive sector accounts for 8% of the Polish GDP and as much as 13% of total exports. As a result, right behind food production, it is the second largest industry along the Vistula. Its basis is formed by Polish manufacturers who have been developing their companies step by step throughout the years, with time becoming leaders of their respective market segments.
An excellent case in point is Lumag from the Wielkopolska region, specialising in the manufacture of friction materials, which are the most important components of brake pads. The company was founded in 1988 and initially focused on the manufacture of brake linings for drum brakes. Over subsequent years it expanded its operations, implementing and developing its own in-house brake pad manufacturing technology. Today the company portfolio consists of brake pads and brake linings for commercial vehicles (Lumag brand) and brake pads for passenger cars and commercial vehicles (Breck brand). Over its 30 years of operation the company manufactured well over 100 million brake pads. The weight of the friction material used for this purpose exceeds 87 thousand tonnes, which is the equivalent of over 50 thousand passenger cars.
Marek Żak, founder and president of Lumag said: “I started as a car enthusiast, believing that components made in Poland can feature European quality, offering drivers high-level of comfort and safety. In 30 years on the market we have managed to reach a strong position and become one of the largest companies based entirely on Polish capital which operate in the automotive industry. But we are not stopping at that, as the foundation of our strategy is constant growth. That is the reason why we are always working on extending our product offering. A prime example of that development is the investment project we are currently implementing, whose worth exceeds 30 million PLN. After its completion we will manufacture all components for the manufacture of complete brake pads. This will allow us to take an important steptowards our goal of significantly extending the range of our OE products.”
Independence and cutting edge technologies
In the history of Lumag there were two watershed moments. The first was the creation of the Breck brand in 2003, which allowed the company to translate its experience from commercial vehicles to passenger cars. The second was the opening of the new factory in the town of Budzyń in the Wielkopolska region in 2013. This investment worth almost 100 million PLN resulted in the most modern friction material production facility in Central in Eastern Europe. The factory not only multiplied the company’s production capacity, but also enabled it to improve the quality of manufactured brake linings and brake pads.
As far as quality improvements are concerned, the crucial role has been played by experts from the Lumag’s in-house Research and Development Department. They have been responsible for developing friction material formulas and for developing technologies giving Lumag its competitive edge to boot. These top-notch professionals are supported by cutting edge equipment allowing them to run advanced tests before launching new products. Dynamometer stations for trucks and passenger cars are a prime example, as Lumag is the only company in Poland having such equipment. Other technical equipment includes systems used for measuring braking efficiency or a station used to test vibration and acoustic phenomena in various weather conditions. The company research activities resulted, among other achievements, in the development of a thermal drilling technology used in products for commercial vehicles, which improves the adhesion of the friction material to the surface of the backing plate.
But the growth of Lumag looks best when presented in figures. During the last decade the company almost tripled its revenue and last year it sold over 10 million brake pads. A significant part of that – 80% – was exported. The company is also very active on the domestic market. The most noticeable activity may be its advertising campaign with the Breck brand ambassador, famous Polish rally driver, Krzysztof Hołowczyc, cooperating with the company since 2016.